His story is simple. He was raised in a well-to-do family in Northern Africa. His mother tried to entice him to become a Christian but Augustine was more interested in secular pursuits. He immersed himself in the philosophies of the day and became a professor of rhetoric.
He lived with a girl for years and had a son with her. By that time in his life he was living in Milan and teaching. He listened to Ambrose, the local bishop and became a fan of his sermons. Meanwhile his mother Monica kept asking Augustine when he was going to be baptized. He preferred to remain a catechumen.
The story of his conversion is the heart of the “Confessions.” He describes a moment when he suddenly realized that St. Paul was speaking to him directly when he said: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” It was the most dramatic moment in his life. He was soon baptized along with his best friend and his own son, Adeodatus.
Monica, his mother, is featured in Augustine’s story and Augustine’s description of the days leading up to her death is poignant and riveting. He knows he owes two births to her: his physical birth and his re-birth in Christ.
Sometime after his death, Augustine’s writings were hand-carried out of North Africa by bishops who were fleeing an enormous barbarian invasion near the end of the fifth century. Those writings are revered by scholars today.
Here is an example of the way Augustine prays:
“Your best servant is he who looks not so much to hear from You what he wants to hear, but rather to want what he hears from You.”(Confessions, Chapter 26, #37)
Monica’s feast day is the 27th of August and Augustine, the 28th.
This is Augustinian week in my soul.